So, we waited for the train in the cold wind and rain, but the train wasn't coming. The automated voice on the intercom at the train station kept saying there were mechanical issues. When we got on board, the guy taking our money told us actually there was a bomb threat earlier and so that's why our train was 40 minutes late. Just my luck!
When our train finally arrived downtown, it was almost 4:30pm. We had to run 7 blocks in the pouring rain with 40+ MPH winds to get there on time.
It was on Jackson so we had to run past the Occupy Chicago movement and protesters near the Chicago Board of Trade and banks. They were beating on drums, shouting, "We are the 99%!" I wanted to join in but I had more important things on my mind.
We were soaking wet, hungry and out of breath, but I didn't care. My daughter was about to be recognized for the amazing writer that she already is at 18. As we caught our breath and walked in, I was trying to wipe the rain off my face and hair, stand straight and not embarrass Jen. It was hard, my mouth was practically hanging open when I looked around. To my left, there was someone playing a grand piano. In the main area there were tables and couches with a buffet dinner near the back. It smelled heavenly. To my right there was an open bar. We had some dinner then I told one of the guys asking us if we would like a drink I'd like a glass of Caberet wa wa wa (some fancy name of the wine they were offering). Lorens got a Heineken. Jen got a Pepsi and we held up our glasses and said "Cheers to Jennifer!" We were laughing, and of course, I was also crying. This was already an incredible night.
Then, award winning teachers and best selling authors were coming up to us and telling Jen they loved her story.
It was hosted by the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation. She was one of the 12 winners of their writing competition, winning 3rd place in her category. After dinner, she got to read an except from her story, won a $200 cash prize and best of all, her story was published in their 2011 Anthology!
The stories and poems are judged in a two-part blind process. Award winning teachers pick 25 finalists and then, Best Selling Authors judge them and select the 12 winners. The stories are then published in their 2011 Anthology which is sold everywhere. They told us to take some copies for our family and friends (I took 10 copies and had Jen sign them all). She was asked to sign several books by people that attended as well.
Part of the Preface in the book, titled C&AF Review, 2011, reads, "We at Civic & Arts believe that, because of the large number of applicants and the rigorous judging process, we present in this anthology some of the best writing by young writers in the Chicago area."
she's a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!
(Jen & Me (crying again). Jen's high school graduation, June, 2011)